Way back when I stared teaching…26 years ago…I decided that I didn’t like screen printed doboks (Korean for training uniform). The logos would fade and, while it was kind of cool to think of it as a representation of your hard work, I wanted my logo to be more important. Something that wouldn’t fade or disappear. It represents ME and what I’m trying to promote.

I’ve kept doboks simple. White traditional cross-over for colored belts (I had tried the V-neck but I’m not an Olympic stylist) with the logo on the left front. Black belts can wear black in any combination. Some like the solid black, while others like the old school Tang Soo Do style (my preference). These ranks get the logo on the front and the back. The embroidery also helps with making sure the logos are in the proper place. Many black belts can forget that the junior students can see the logo on the back. They forget that they are the highest representation of me and that the colored belts are watching closely.

DSC_0310These illustrate why I have a small school. There is nothing without meaning. The logo represents our history and our present. The curriculum does the same. So here’s what baffles me. Why would a school allow their logo (their dobok) be disposable? The regular marketing offer of “One month of classes and a FREE uniform for $24.95” has been around for a long time. I wonder how well it works for keeping students as I regularly find doboks at the thrift shops. I may be jaded but this feels to me that the logo does not have the proper value.

I would rather offer the first month free (which we do)  than give away my logo. After a month, the student sees the value of the training and enjoys being part of the class. Now that they know they want to stay, getting a dobok shows them that the journey has started and there are many along to help. This builds a strong brotherhood.

The use of different doboks to indicate different programs or packages has never set well with me, either. One color (white) for those “regular” students, then a second (blue?) for the black belt club students with a third (red?) for the Master’s club. Does this make your logo more valuable or is it just something “bright & shiny” to sell?

Black_Belt-PTTKDYes, there are some psychological benefits behind the concept of different doboks and even the use of different patches but I wonder, though, if we are rewarding (or selling) students for too many irrelevant things.

Author: Master Robert Frankovich

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3 thoughts to “What’s your uniform worth?

  • H Austin Hummel

    totally agree. Well Said!

  • Russell Chapman

    Couldn’t agree more! Thank you for the post, Master Frankovich.

  • Mel

    As someone who has no other martial arts background to compare us to, I’m glad you went this route with the uniforms and not other routes you mentioned. I like wearing something I can take pride in, thanks to the quality of material and the symbolism and history of the logos.

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